User design and experience preferences in a novel smartphone application for migraine management: A think aloud study of the RELAXaHEAD application

Mia T. Minen, Adama Jalloh, Emma Ortega, Scott W. Powers, Mary Ann Sevick, Richard B. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Objective. Scalable nonpharmacologic treatment options are needed for chronic pain conditions. Migraine is an ideal condition to test smartphone-based mind-body interventions (MBIs) because it is a very prevalent, costly, disabling condition. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a standardized, evidence-based MBI previously adapted for smartphone applications for other conditions. We sought to examine the usability of the RELAXaHEAD application (app), which has a headache diary and PMR capability. Methods. Using the “Think Aloud” approach, we iteratively beta-tested RELAXaHEAD in people with migraine. Individual interviews were conducted, audio-recorded, and transcribed. Using Grounded Theory, we conducted thematic analysis. Participants also were asked Likert scale questions about satisfaction with the app and the PMR. Results. Twelve subjects participated in the study. The mean duration of the interviews (SD, range) was 36 (11, 19–53) minutes. From the interviews, four main themes emerged. People were most interested in app utility/practicality, user interface, app functionality, and the potential utility of the PMR. Participants reported that the daily diary was easy to use (75%), was relevant for tracking headaches (75%), maintained their interest and attention (75%), and was easy to understand (83%). Ninety-two percent of the participants would be happy to use the app again. Participants reported that PMR maintained their interest and attention (75%) and improved their stress and low mood (75%). Conclusions. The RELAXaHEAD app may be acceptable and useful to migraine participants. Future studies will examine the use of the RELAXaHEAD app to deliver PMR to people with migraine in a low-cost, scalable manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-377
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019



  • MHealth
  • Migraine
  • Mind Body Intervention
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Smartphone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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